Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Writers...They Plot Everything!

As you all know I am currently coming up with the Finale of My Reboot Files Series, mostly because I have other projects in the works and it’s time to end the series, at least for now. However, every so often I do get asked if writing is all I do. The answer is, of course not.
When I’m not writing I have hobbies. One of them is I’m a crafter. That’s right I embroider, knit and crochet, just to name a few. Some better than others, but I figure it’s the effort that counts. Still, me being me, I can’t just stick to the regular stuff, I have to come up with something...different.
I'm a writer. I plot.
Such as when I decided to replace the buttons on a sweater.

Behold! The Store Bought Sweater. But What's With Those Buttons?

Yes, this was one of those "What Was I Thinking?" purchases. Not that the sweater is bad, even the buttons aren't that bad.

See they're pretty. Kind of.

The picture doesn't do it justice. The glass buttons are so...shiny, it hurts.
In my defense, I needed a black sweater, and had trouble finding one I liked. This one fit, looked pretty good, and was on sale. So in desperation I bought it. Then I wore it once or twice, hated it and stuck it my closet. Where it sat. For years. Especially after I bought another black sweater that I actually liked.
Anyway comes the day that I need another black sweater. I find this one hiding in the back of my closet. It's then that I make a discovery. Once I get past the buttons, I actually like the sweater. But those buttons! I still hate them on this sweater. However, this time, I think why don't I replace the buttons? It'll save me the aggravation of trying to find another sweater. Fully realizing that I was venturing into a whole new territory of aggravation.
Button purgatory!
You see, I lived with a woman (my mother) who knew how to sew and actually enjoyed it. So I knew from her that finding the right buttons, in the right amount, that you can afford (these are buttons after all) takes dedication! Mom would take hours, I'm not exaggerating, looking over buttons before she found the magic button combination that existed in her mind's eye.
Even knowing that I didn't think it would be that hard because I knew what I wanted. The plan was to replace the glass buttons with pearl style buttons. Simple, classic, and works for day or night wear.  Easy, right? Wrong!
The way buttons work is, depending on the size of the button, they'll come in different amounts on a card. In this case the size I needed came in the amount of three buttons per card. Two cards, six buttons. Problem. This sweater has seven buttons!
You've got to wonder what sadist thinks this stuff up. I mean clothes are these people's business. You can't tell me they don't know you are never going to be able to find the right amount of button! So why do they do it? To make you buy more buttons or a new sweater.
Button sadists. They make for good antagonists!
So this was my dilemma (the drama builds). Do I buy an extra card which leaves me with two extra buttons of the buttons I liked (which I probably never use again) or buy a new sweater?
Or do I do the Cindy thing and come up with a plot twist?
Plot twist it is!
Recently I've gotten back to wearing brooches and pins. So I thought, why don't I do the six buttons in black to tone them down, and buy a fancier button to imitate a brooch for that seventh button?
Take that button sadists!
I know, it's genius! Now I just had to make it work. And you thought mysteries were hard.
The black buttons weren't a problem, they were the same size as the original buttons, so it was a simple replacement. As long as you know how to sew on a button. Which I do. I must have been paying attention when Mom showed me. Go figure.
The genius part comes with the top button (shown below). It mimics a brooch, but weighs less so it lays better. Still it's about twice the size of the original button, so it wasn't going to fit through the button hole. What do I do?

I sewed a snap between the top flaps of the sweater so it will stay closed. Then I sew the brooch button at the top to cover  the top button hole to give the illusion it is fasten through the button hole! The button sadist are defeated! A Happy Ending!

New and Improved Sweater!

I don't know if this is an original idea. I'm sure someone else has thought of it sometime. But this is how a writer thinks. We plot out everything.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What I love About Miss Marple and Other Cozy Thoughts

I love a good cozy mystery, and there’s nothing like a review of classic cozies to remind me why I fell in love with the genre. Like most of my fellow cozy authors, I read Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and the Bobbsey Twins as a little girl. Later came Agatha Christie, P.D. James, Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, and Patricia Wentworth, to name a few.  

When I’m asked who my favorite author is, the short answer is, I don’t have one. That’s because there are too many good authors to name just one, or even ten. But as far as cozy authors go, I think Agatha Christie is the queen.   

I recently purchased a set of two books called Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks and Agatha Christie Murder in the Making. Both are by John Curran, who was given access by the Christie family to the notebooks in which Agatha Christie jotted her notes over the many years of her successful career.  (I recommend these books to anyone who is a Christie fan. They are slightly repetitious, but full of fascinating insight into Christie and her books.)

While cozy mysteries seem simple, they aren’t. They often depend on deep characterization, and in some cozies, even a bit of caricature. (To write good caricature, the author must have a good grasp of characterization.) The twists and turns of clues have to be presented in such a way to lead to a satisfying ending. The bad guy needs to be obvious, but not obvious. Agatha Christie expresses it perfectly in her biography. “The whole point of a good detective story was that it must be somebody obvious but at the same time for some reason, you would then find that it is not obvious, that he could not possibly have done it. Thought really, of course, he had done it.”

In my cozy-in-progress, I recently changed my mind about who the bad guy is because my original wasn’t developing as I thought he should. That often happens to me as I write a book. Changing bad guys midstream used to make me feel I wasn’t a good author or not organized enough. No more! According to John Curran and the Christie notebooks, Agatha Christie didn’t always know, either. In some of her notebooks, she changed her mind about the bad guys in stories several times.

Joan Hickson as Miss Marple
One of my favorite cozy heroines is Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. She is the ultimate amateur detective--someone I could aspire to be when I get old. My husband and I just finished a Miss Marple marathon. We watched the PBS versions starring Joan Hickson, who is my favorite Miss Marple of all time. The shows in which she stars are some of the only ones to stay faithful to the plots as written by Christie.  

Joan Hickson is perfect in the role in my opinion. In fact, in 1946, Agatha Christie wrote a letter to Joan Hickson after seeing her in a play. She said, “I hope that one day you will play my dear Miss Marple.” That didn’t happen for another 38 years. When Joan Hickson was 78 years old, she filmed the first Miss Marple for television. (Seventy-eight! Wow.)

Miss Marple made her first appearance in print in a series of six short stories published between December 927 and May 1928 in the Royal Magazine. In the first of those stories, Miss Marple is dressed completely in black and sit in her cottage in St. Mary Mead, knitting and listening and solving crimes that have baffled the police. The first full-length book that featured her was The Murder at the Vicarage. In that book, the vicar’s wife describes Miss Marple as “that terrible Miss Marple. . .the worst cat in the village.” On the other hand, the vicar describes her as “a white-haired old lady with a gentle, appealing manner.”

And I guess that is the key to a great hero or heroine in a cozy. The character is multi-faceted—seen by the other characters in the story in many different lights. And that’s what I love about Miss Marple. She can be tough, kind, catty, humorous, and even when she acts befuddled, her brain is ticking like the best clock in the world.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

For Our Readers

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank our readers. Without you we wouldn't need to write. This past weekend I went to a literary festival in Dahlonega, Georgia. I met a lot of fellow authors but the highlight was meeting some of my readers. I met several people who had read my books and I met new people who bought my books and would be reading them for the first time. I was thrilled when a young lady came to my table and ask me if I was the author of Death in Dahlonega, Murder in Marietta and Terror on Tybee Island. She had read two of the three books and wanted to meet me. Here is a picture of this sweet young lady.

Photo: A young fan!

While I was there I was able to eat lunch with the Book Ends book club. These ladies have read all three of my books and invited me to lunch with them. I was thrilled to be invited. I want to thank each and every person who's read any of my books and offered me support over the past few years. It never fails to encourage me when a fan tells me how much they enjoyed reading about Trixie and Dee Dee. I instantly want to go home and start writing. Writing is lonely and takes a lot of will power to sit down and write. If you haven't encouraged your favorite writer please take the time to do so. You don't know how much a few words will encourage them and give them the extra push to keep writing.

Photo: At the Dahlonega Literary Festival

Deborah has worked as a freelance writer and photographer, since 2001, for the historical magazine “Georgia Backroads.” She has had many articles and photographs published during this time. Her writing is featured in “Tales of the Rails” edited by Olin Jackson. She has also had a showing of her photographs at Floyd Medical Center Art Gallery as well as winning several awards. Her debut cozy mystery "Death in Dahlonega", a winner in the ACFW Category Five Writer's Contest, is now available. She is a current member of the Georgia Writers Association, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Deborah has been nominated for Georgia Author of the Year 2012. She has an established blog, Butterfly Journey, where she reviews Christian Fiction. You can also catch her at
Sleuths and Suspects, where she reviews mysteries. She also contributes to the Cozy Mystery Magazine every other Tuesday. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Fat Ladies Keep Singing--by Linda Kozar

I thought I'd said goodbye to Sue Jan and Lovita, but it turns out, my characters in the "When The Fat Ladies Sing" mystery series (Publisher: Spyglass Lane Mysteries), weren't ready to say goodbye. They had more to say, more crimes to solve, and more pounds to shed. That's right, the girls are serious about getting in a shape other than round.

And that makes me happy. I want Sue Jan and Lovita to be around for a long, long time...

Here's a peek at the 4th book in the series. The first three are Misfortune Cookies, A Tisket, A Casket, and Dead As A Doornail. The latest one is called That Wasn't Chicken and I'm hovering near the finish line. This book was definitely more difficult to write. Why? Because the mystery is more complex and intense than the previous books. Still fun, and funny, and definitely character-driven, but tingling with edge-of-the-seat moments as well.

I've offered a sneak peek at the first chapter already, so here's a glance at the middle of the book:

Barbara Stone—was the name scrawled on the calendar. My client, showed up on the dot—right at one. A smallish woman, with pale skin creased like an old church bulletin, she smiled as she approached the front desk. My own mouth started to come unhinged when she smiled wide, revealing teeth like rows of corn nuts. But I held my lips together somehow, and her English accent easily diverted my attention the moment I got past looking at her not-so-pearly-whites.
“Miz Stone?”
“Why yes, are you Lovita?”
“I am.”
Talking to this woman should be interesting. We’d have a lot in common since my mother-in-law lived in England. I couldn’t wait to ask what part of the country she lived in.
She tilted her head. “My, what an unusual name you have. Is that a true Texas moniker?”
“A what?”
The woman smiled again. “Is yours a traditional Texas name? Are you what they call a ‘redneck’ or ‘hillbilly’?”
With those teeth, she had the nerve to ask me a question like that?
 “I’m not sure about my name,” I answered first. “I’ve never personally met anyone else with the name, but there probably are a few Lovita’s out there.” I cleared my throat. “And as for the redneck—I don’t know. Does my neck look red to you?” I laughed off what she said, figuring she was from a different country and didn’t understand.
I gestured to an empty station near the picture window. “Have a seat and we’ll have a talk about what you want done.”
“Thank you.” She sat down. I came up behind her and we both stared at each other from our reflections in the mirror.
“So, I hear you want an updo. Are you going to a special event or something?”
“Why yes, my husband and I happened to be in Texas for a special board meeting and happened to receive an impromptu invitation from an old friend of ours to attend an exclusive dinner party tonight.
My heart jumped. “Is it—is it an invitation to a dinner party at a hunting lodge?”
“Yes—you’ve no doubt heard that from other clients.”
I smiled, “Not exactly. Actually, I’m going to that same dinner.”
Her face fell. “Really?”
So much for “exclusive.”
 “Uh huh. Me and my husband are invited and my business partner, Sue Jan and her husband, the Mayor of Wachita are going.” I put an emphasis on mayor, so the woman would stop eyeing me like she was waiting for my fairy godmother to show up or something. But she seemed unimpressed.
She stared straight ahead, as if there was suddenly a lot on her mind. “Isn’t that serendipitous? Why, you and I will be like old friends when we converse later this evening. How-how wonderful.”
Her words were pleasant enough, but I wasn’t feeling it. The woman was clearly ticked off that a lowly hairdresser was going to the same fancy dinner party. Hah!
This woman’s nose was so high she’d drown in a rainstorm! Which is why I decided to play up the redneck/hillbilly angle to make the dinner all the more interesting.
“Well swat my hind with a melon rind! If that ain’t a co-inky dink!”
Jolene and Charla stopped what they were doing and stared my way.
“Yes, I suppose it is.” Babs looked at me like I was crazy. “Could we proceed with the service, then?”
“Sure thing.” I pointed my rat-tail comb at her. “When I’m finished with you, you’ll be purtier’n a mess of fried catfish.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jolene suppress a giggle.
“You—you’re quite correct.” The loose skin on the woman’s neck quivered when she spoke. “I’m certain I’ll be quite fetching when you’re done with me.”
 Her posture stiffened. “As I said, I want an updo. Something simple and classic.” She glanced at her cell phone, texting something rapid-fire. “About how long might it take?”
I winked. “Honey, I’ll be done faster ‘n a jackrabbit on moonshine.”

 Linda Kozar is the co-author of Babes With A Beatitude—Devotions For Smart, Savvy Women of Faith (Hardcover/eBook, Howard/Simon & Schuster 2009) and author of Misfortune Cookies (Print, Barbour Publishing 2008), Misfortune Cookies, A Tisket, A Casket, and Dead As A Doornail, (“When The Fat Ladies Sing Series,” eBooks, Spyglass Lane Mysteries, 2012). Strands of Fate released October 2012 (Hardcover/eBook, Creative Woman Mysteries). Her latest foray into indie publishing, produced Alligator Pear, (historical fiction) and her nonfiction anthology Moving Tales, Adventures in Relocation, both released in 2013. She received the ACFW Mentor of the Year Award in 2007, founded and served as president of Writers On The Storm, The Woodlands, Texas ACFW chapter for three years. In 2003, she co-founded, co-directed and later served as Southwest Texas Director of Words For The Journey Christian Writers Guild.

In addition to writing Linda is Lead Host of the Gate Beautiful Radio Show, part of the Red River Network on Blog Talk Radio—interviewing Christian authors from Debut to Bestselling, airing the 3rd Thursday of every month. She and her husband Michael, married 24 years, have two lovely daughters, Katie and Lauren and a Rat Terrier princess named Patches.

Represented by: Wendy Lawton, Books & Such Literary Agency

Member of: CAN (Christian Authors Network), RWA (Romance Writers of American), NHRWA (North Houston Romance Writers of America), ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), Writers On The Storm, The Woodlands, Texas Chapter of ACFW, Toastmasters (Area 56) The Woodlands, Texas, The Woodlands Church, The Woodlands, TX.